Calls for Bharat Ratna for the Indian Chess ace Viswanathan Anand has started to pour in after he won the World Chess Championships for the fifth time. He does deserve the country’s highest civilian award and going by how things look to be shaping, Anand would give Sachin Tendulkar and Major Dhyanchand a tough competition who till now were the leading choice for the award.
And irrespective of his fifth World Championship triumph in Moscow, he still was a deserving candidate for the award. All of these three sportspersons have made the country proud in their respective fields and all deserve the award. But Anand stands taller than others to receive it considering what he has done and achieved for the country in a game played throughout the world and by millions.
Anand has been one of those few sportsperson from the country who has been able to make a name for him without remaining associated with a team sport. Sachin and Dhyanchand are kind of talents that a country can seldom produce and it is very difficult to find geniuses like them, but the fact that they were born in a country like India where both these games were and are very popular. But for Anand, it never has been like that. He had to make a name for himself.
Sachin and Dhyanchand have end number of achievements to their name, but Anand efforts of the sixty four square game is insurmountable. He has title galore all over the World and most importantly, he has won the World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in the Chess fraternity for five times and that too in different formats. He is the only chess champion to have ever won the title in all the formats, including tournament, match, rapid, and knockout chess. And Sachin has won the World Cup only once while Dhyanchand won Olympic gold on three occasions. Anand is the undisputed champion of the World and was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991-92.
If Sachin and Dhyanchand have records against their names, Anand is far ahead of them in individual accomplishments. But then Anand’s achievement could never be celebrated in a way like how it was with Sachin and Dhyanchand because of the ignorance of the people about it.
One cannot question on the influence that Dhyanchand and Sachin has played on the young minds of their respective games, but Anand is the sole reason why we have so many Grand Masters in chess today. He is the sole reason for ushering in a chess revolution in India. And the fact cannot be ignored as well that that India had been a dominant force in hockey and won five gold medals without the wizard whereas Cricket was always India’s number one game even prior to Sachin’s arrival. But Anand has been the torch bearer for chess in the country and it his single handed effort that has changed everyone’s outlook towards the game in the country.
Both Dhyanchand and Sachin had mass following them, which is a highly motivating factor, but even after so much of achievements Anand has been a sole crusader, an unsung hero.
All these players fall in the same league and no one can reach that level where they are, but then Anand never had a team supporting him, whereas it would not be harsh to say that both Sachin and Dhyanchand did receive immense support from their peers.
Chess in the country has reached the level where it is today is due to Anand and he is a pioneer in truest term and no one can even think of achieving what Anand has achieved single-handedly. All these three sporting heroes of the country should be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna, but the master of 64 squares Anand deserves to win it first.
By Samikshan Dutta Choudhury
Indian Sports News Network